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With the recent appointment of Frédérique Ries MEP as rapporteur for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation revision, ACE sets clear industry asks for their sustainable packaging

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, ACE, welcomes the appointment of Frédérique Ries MEP (Renew Europe, Belgium) as rapporteur for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). While the beverage carton industry supports the European Commission’s vision that by 2030 all packaging should be recyclable and/or reusable – as demonstrated by the sector’s Roadmap to 2030 and Beyond – we consider the following additions to the draft legislation as essential to meet the goals of an ambitious PPWR revision and look forward to an open dialogue with our stakeholders in the EU institutions:

1. The need for a 90 % mandatory collection target
The first step to recycling is collection. The industry needs enabling conditions to ensure beverage cartons are recycled at scale by 2035. A mandatory collection target for packaging formats would provide predictable packaging waste flows that would incentivise investments in recycling infrastructure and technologies.

2. Exemption from reuse targets for microbiological sensitive products
Microbiological sensitive products that cannot maintain their qualities through the addition of preservatives (i.e. 2011 juice directive) need to be packed in aseptic packaging to maintain the hygiene and nutritional value of the product. This is especially important for products with a long shelf life. ACE believes mandatory reuse targets should exempt sensitive beverages with these specific needs.

3. Feasibility assessment of the recycled content targets for contact sensitive packaging The European Commission’s proposal defines recycled content targets for contact sensitive packaging of respectively 10 % and 50 % by 2030 and 2040. ACE members are keen to include recycled plastic in their cartons provided it is available on the market at an economically viable price and authorised for use in food contact applications. These two conditions are currently not met at scale. ACE expects that ambitious recycled content targets included in the PPWR will make market availability even more challenging, therefore, we encourage the European Commission to re-assess the availability of such recycled content prior to the enforcement of these targets.

To help mitigate the challenge of the availability of recycled content on the market, an equivalent should be established between biobased/renewable plastic content and recycled plastic content as sustainably sourced renewable materials are a low-carbon, circular and food safe solution.

4. Design for Recycling (DfR) Guidelines – need for sound, technical input by industry
DfR Guidelines are technical documents that need to be evidence-based, robust and take account of industry innovation. The beverage carton industry’s latest DfR Guidelines1 provide expert recommendations to optimise their recyclability. To ensure DfR Guidelines duly reflect in-depth technical knowledge and latest innovation, it is important to include experts from the industry and technical institutes in the development of the DfR Guidelines.

We call for The European Commission to mandate CEN (The European Committee for Standardisation) to develop the DfR Guidelines. As an alternative, the creation of a stakeholder/industry advisory body to help with the development of the delegated acts would be necessary.

Beverage cartons are a sustainable and essential packaging solution allowing the safe transport, storage and use of sensitive products such as milk, plant-based products and juice (beverage cartons pack ca. 75% of milk and 59% of juice in the EU2). Their composition and lightness allow easy transport and long shelf life. Beverage cartons have the lowest carbon footprint in their category of milk and juice as demonstrated by several LCA studies, including by NGOs.3

1 Beverage carton industry guidelines, 2022
2 Roland Berger: Impact assessment study of an EU-wide collection for recycling target of beverage cartons (2022); 2018 Liquid Fruit Market Report
3 Supporting evidence – Environmental performance of beverage cartons, Circular Analytics,; ZeroWaste Europe review-of-environmental-impact_en.pdf.pdf_v2.pdf?utm_source=POLITICO.EU&utm_campaign=edf8c1d17b- EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_10_24_02_44&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_10959edeb5-edf8c1d17b-190996081

You can learn more about the benefits of beverage cartons on ACE’s website.

ACE, the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment, is pleased to announce that the recycling rate for beverage cartons in the EU281 rose to 51 % in 2019. This represents a continued year-on-year increase in the EU beverage carton recycling rate.

“We are pleased that the steady annual increase of the recycling rate for beverage cartons in 2019 surpassed 50 %,” said Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE. “This is proof of our industry’s efforts and enhances the message that beverage cartons are recyclable and are being recycled at scale in Europe.”

Beverage cartons, made largely from renewable materials, contribute positively to a low carbon circular economy. The industry is driving beverage carton recycling across Europe, committed to efforts that support the increase of the recycling rate in all EU Member States. The industry calls on policymakers at the European and national levels to assure that beverage cartons are collected for recycling separately, and to support a collection target to ensure beverage cartons are collected for recycling.

“With an upcoming EU legislative agenda towards more sustainable packaging, the beverage carton is well positioned with a 51 % recycling rate. This is an opportunity to inform policy- makers at all levels that beverage cartons are a safe, circular and sustainable packaging solution with a low carbon footprint, and how the beverage carton you use at your table can be easily collected and recycled,” continued Ms. Carpentier.

1Data includes information from the United Kingdom, which at that time was still an EU Member State.

ACE welcomes European Commission President von der Leyen and the Council of the EU’s support for increasing the global ambition for biodiversity and endorsing the “Leaders’ Pledge for Nature” at the UN Summit on Biodiversity on Monday 28 September. The beverage carton industry is dedicated to preserving biodiversity, committing to only source wood fibre from sustainably managed forests.1

Biodiversity supports healthy and resilient ecosystems, keeps the climate in balance, provides essential resources for communities and a stable supply of raw materials for our industry. Global support is essential to help reverse the effects of climate change and restore and maintain nature.

While supporting global initiatives that put biodiversity, climate and environment at the centre of national and international cooperation, we cannot forget that there is work to be done at EU level. “We are delighted to see action on biodiversity taken seriously at a global level,” said Annick Carpentier, Director General. “In most parts of Europe, sustainable forest management already guarantees sound biodiversity. However, there is still action to be considered as policy makers develop the EU Forestry Strategy.”

ACE is committed to:

  • Promoting the use of credible sustainable forest management standards, which are instrumental to support the protection of biodiversity, and continuing to demonstrate full traceability of all wood supply to certified sustainably managed forests.
  • Ensuring transparency and credible traceability of wood fibre flow by third party chain of custody certification, from carton to forest.
  • Ensuring responsible sourcing for all materials, not just wood fibre, demonstrated by third- party certification, credible sustainability standards as the basis for preservation of biodiversity and showing industry leadership.
  • Supporting the development of a coherent and growth-oriented EU Forest Strategy which links and recognises biodiversity management and decarbonization, fills knowledge gaps to keep the industry competitive, sets biodiversity targets and ensures Member States meet these targets. ACE calls on the Commission to include such measures in the aforementioned Strategy.

The use of internationally recognised sustainable forest management certification systems is crucial for sustaining biodiversity and minimising future loss. ACE applauds those MEPs who have recently called on the Commission to promote sustainable forest management and biodiversity through a non-binding Parliament resolution.

1ACE: A commitment to wood traceability

About ACE
ACE – The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment – provides a European platform for beverage carton manufacturers and their paperboard suppliers to benchmark and profile beverage cartons as a safe, circular, and sustainable packaging solution with low carbon benefits.
ACE members include beverage carton producers Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc, and Elopak. They develop, manufacture, and market safe, circular, and sustainable systems for the packaging and distribution of food and beverages, and produce packaging material at 20 plants in Europe. Around 98% of the paperboard used by ACE members to produce beverage cartons in Europe is produced by Stora Enso in Skoghall (Sweden) and Imatra (Finland), and BillerudKorsnäs in Gävle and Frövi (Sweden), who are also members of ACE.

ACE supports the European Commission proposal on the EU Climate Law aimed at reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

“We fully endorse the European Commission’s objective to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. Today, the EU demonstrates their leadership on climate change, and presents another opportunity to foster greater innovation, green jobs and reduce harmful emissions that negatively impact our society” said Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE. “We now encourage the EU-co-legislators to go a step further and increase the ambition of this proposal by addressing the climate impact of materials and to strengthen the link between climate, the circular economy and the bioeconomy. Several reports acknowledge that production and use of materials account for a substantive share of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why the substitution of high carbon materials with low carbon materials, such as sustainably-sourced renewables, is key to reach climate neutrality and reduce the need for fossil-based resources. We look forward to working constructively with the EU institutions to have this more clearly reflected in the Climate Law.”

By using recognised science-based targets, sustainably sourced materials, internationally recognized standards, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®), the members of ACE remain committed to contributing to a low carbon circular economy.

ACE announces that the recycling rate for beverage cartons in the EU28 rose to 49 % in 2018. This is a small (1 %), but steady increase in the EU beverage carton recycling rate from the previous year.

“We are pleased to see that the beverage carton recycling rate continues to increase throughout the EU. The year-on-year increase underscores the efforts made towards recycling beverage cartons,” said Annick Carpentier, Director General of ACE.

Some Member States reach rates above 70 %, while there is still room for increased recycling participation in other Member States.

“This is not enough if the EU wants to reach a low carbon circular economy. We call for the ambitious implementation of EU waste legislation at national level to ensure all beverage cartons are collected and recycled. We believe that the recycling rate will continue to increase thanks to our industry’s commitment to support beverage cartons being recycled, including the non-fibre components,” said Ms. Carpentier

In addition, ACE has launched a four-month campaign, “We’re not just square, we’re circular,” to raise awareness and build understanding that beverage cartons are recyclable and being recycled at scale in Europe. The campaign also aims to highlight the low carbon footprint of beverage cartons due to the renewability of materials used.

“Beverage cartons provide a double circularity, at sourcing thanks to the renewability of their main components and at end-of-life through recycling. This double circularity helps ensure that beverage cartons play a role in helping achieve a low carbon circular economy,” continued Ms. Carpentier.

The campaign website can be accessed here, from ACE’s main homepage ( and from the secretariat’s social media channels.

EXTR:ACT – Driving Value for multimaterial recycling, the pan-European platform created by BillerudKorsnäs, Elopak, SIG Combibloc, Stora Enso and Tetra Pak, all members of the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), has announced the nomination of EXTR:ACT’s Managing Director, Michael Brandl.

Michael Brandl, a German national with a background in engineering, built his career in the dairy industry before joining FKN, the German beverage carton association in 2010. Michael intends to use his considerable knowledge of both the beverage carton industry and of German and European recycling infrastructures to meet the platform’s objectives.

“We strongly believe that Michael’s experience and expertise will drive EXTR:ACT increase the recycling of our packages, scale and boost value for recycling solutions, and secure our long-term sustainability” said Heike Schiffler, President of EXTR:ACT. “With this new initiative, we are confident we will be able to achieve a significant increase in collection and recycling rates by 2025 “.

EXTR:ACT, based in Frankfurt, will foster the recycling of beverage cartons, including the non-paper components such as polymers and aluminium. It reflects the industry’s commitment to the circular economy and complements ACE’s ongoing work. EXTR:ACT will also seek to work in partnership with stakeholders who have similar needs regarding the recycling of composite packaging.

About ACE:
ACE provides a European platform for beverage carton manufacturers and their paperboard suppliers to benchmark and profile cartons as renewable, recyclable and low carbon packaging solutions. Engaging with stakeholders and partners seeking high environmental stewardship, it contributes expertise to EU policy, legislation and standard‐setting.
ACE members include beverage carton producers Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak; they develop, manufacture and market systems for the packaging and distribution of food, and produce packaging material at 20 plants in Europe. Most of the paperboard used by ACE members in beverage cartons in Europe is produced by Stora Enso in Skoghall (Sweden) and Imatra (Finland), and BillerudKorsnäs in Gävle and Frövi (Sweden), who are also members of ACE.

The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), representing the European beverage carton industry, applauded the recent progress report on the European Forest Strategy.

Annick Carpentier, ACE Director General, acknowledged the strides forward highlighted in the progress report, and added: “We are pleased to see the European Commission’s emphasis on the role of sustainable forest management in achieving a sustainable economic growth, while protecting biodiversity. This is a priority we share.”

ACE members have long been committed to promoting sustainability in forest management. Beverage cartons they produce only use wood fibres that are fully traceable and sourced sustainably, allowing for biodiversity to restore. To move the value chain closer to achieving sound environmental management, the beverage carton industry sees the need to strengthen the link between sustainable forest management practices and life-cycle assessments (LCAs).

As proof of this commitment, ACE was pleased to facilitate a novel process gathering experts from different fields to discuss how LCA can better assess and safeguard biodiversity. Organised together with the UN Environment and the WWF in the surroundings of a sustainably managed Nordic forest, a workshop culminated in a concrete set of recommendations, ‘the Gimo Recommendations’, that help bridge the current gap between sustainable forest management and LCAs.

The three-pronged approach outlined in the recommendations demonstrates how it can actively contribute to the protection of life on land (SDG15). Commenting on the future needs, Carpentier added: “It is the responsibility of all of us to protect our ecosystems and for our industry enhancing sustainable forestry is a way to go. Sound LCAs have a potential to guide decisions across value chains and contribute to this objective.”